Introduction: Mahogany and Glycerin Sculpture

This project explores how negative and positive spaces interact with each other. The glycerin serves as a barrier between the two and also as a glorified joint that holds the entire project together.

To make this sculpture you will need:

  • Wood - I used mahogany, but any wood you like will work
  • Glycerin Soap - This can be found at most craft stores in the soap making section
  • 5/32" Metal tubing
  • Foam Core
  • Box Cutter
  • Hot Plate and Saucepan
  • Microwave Safe Container
  • Stir Stick
  • Drill and 5/16" Drill Bit
  • Saw - I used a band saw, but other saws can also be used

Step 1: 1. Cut Mahogany

Cut the wood into 3 different sized pieces:

  • x3 - 5/8" x 5/16" x 6"
  • x2 - 5/8" x 5/16" x 3"
  • x1 - 5/8" x 5/8" x 2"

Step 2: Drill Holes

Drill holes into the wood using a 3/16" drill bit.

For the 5/8" x 5/16" pieces, drill a hole that is offset 1/4" on center from the edge of the block. Only drill half way through the piece. Drill into the 5/16" wide face.

For the 5/8" x 5/8" piece, drill three holes on one face of the block, each spaced 1/2" apart on center. Drill all the way through the block this time.

Turn the block to the un-drilled face, and drill two holes into the block that are placed equally in between the three holes that you just drilled. They will be approximately 5/8" apart.

Step 3: 3. Build a Mold

Now build a mold for the glycerin out of foam core. You will need two side pieces, a bottom, a back, and two "cap" pieces. See attached drawing more dimensions and shapes.

Cut these pieces out, and use hot glue to glue them together. Make sure to also seal all of the cracks in the mold afterwards with another layer of hot glue (to prevent leaking).

Step 4: 4. Wood Into Mold

Time to place the 5/8" x 5/16" pieces of wood into your finished mold.

Start with the 6" long pieces and place them into the mold along the tall side. Make sure the drilled holes are facing up and are on the outside end of the mold.

Put the 3" long pieces in between the 6" pieces, so the sizes are alternating. Again, make sure the holes are facing up and are on the outside end of the mold.

It will be a snug fit, but this will ensure the wood doesn't move around too much.

Step 5: 5. Heat and Pour Glycerin

First prop up the mold so that the opening is flat and parallel to the ground. This will ensure the glycerin sets flat and does not spill out of the mold.

Scoop out spoonfuls of glycerin soap into a microwave safe container. Boil water and when steam starts rising, place the container over the steam to melt the soap. Stir as it melts to prevent clumps.

Using a microwave is an alternative to creating this makeshift double boiler.

Pour the melted soap into the mold. You may need to do multiple pours to fill the mold.

Let the glycerin soap set for 40 mins or until it is firm to the touch. Then open up the mold to reveal your cast.

Step 6: 6. Cut Metal Tubing

While the glycerin is setting, go ahead and cut your 5/32" metal tubing. Cut the tubing by using a box cutter and rolling it until it snaps through.

You will need x2 pieces that are 5-3/4" long and x3 pieces that are 2-3/4" long.

Step 7: 7. Assemble

After you have taken your cast out of the mold, you are ready to assemble your sculpture!

  • Insert the 2-3/4" metal tubing into the holes cut in the 6" pieces of wood.
  • Then slide the 5/8" x 5/8" piece of wood over the tubing.
  • Finally insert the 5-3/4" tubing through the 5/8" x 5/8" piece of wood and into the holes cut into the 3" wood.

Step 8: UPDATE!

I made a second block based on the ideas that went into my first one, and here's what happened! I went forward with the idea of the glycerin soap acting as a joint, and pushed it to the max. I layered small rectangular pieces of wood at 90 degrees to each other and placed them into a 3" x 6" x 1.5" mold. Then I cast some glycerin tiles of the same size as the wood pieces. I also placed these into the mold and then put a blanket layer of glycerin over the entire thing. I continued this layering process until the mold is full. In this particular case I arranged the tiles in a way so that one end of the mold was more dense with wood and the other was glycerin heavy. You can arrange the tiles in whatever pattern you want!